Equal pay for women is at the heart of Canada Post dispute
As a Canada Post strike looms, mail carriers are fighting to fix a serious pay equity problem.
Pension may be the hot-button issue of the ongoing labour dispute between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), but CUPW reps argue that a gender pay gap is also at its heart. “[This is] possibly the worst case of gender discrimination in Canada’s federal public service,” reads a memo from the union representing the nation’s 50,000 mail carriers.
The union has accused Canada Post of breaking federal pay equity legislation, which ensures there is no gender-based wage discrimination amongst public servants, and urged Canadians to write to Justin Trudeau and Patty Hajdu, the Status of Women minister.
Canada’s postal carriers are divided into two sectors: 8,450 rural and suburban carriers (RSMCs), a workforce that’s 70 percent women, and 22,147 urban carriers, made up of 70 percent men. The two divisions do virtually the same work but have different collective agreements, resulting in different pay and benefits.
On average, the mostly female RSMCs earn $21.16 an hour, while their urban, mostly male counterparts make $26.48 per hour — a 28 percent difference. And, unlike the urban carriers, rural-suburban workers don’t receive overtime, plus they pay for their own cars and insurance (urban carriers largely deliver on foot in densely populated areas, while the rural and suburban ones tend to drive due to greater distances between addresses).
“It’s very disappointing because it is 2016 and we work really hard,” says Shelley Sillers, a former RSMC who is now an education and organization officer for the union. “For me, it’s glaringly obvious we’re doing the same job, but Canada Post has always made it very divisive.” Canada Post couldn’t be reached for comment.